Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category
Politics in the United States
In a move that’s sure to warm the cockles of the Religious Right within the Commonwealth, WITF in Harrisburg reports that Pennsylvania’s House unamimously voted to declare 2012 “the Year of the Bible” (WebCite cached article):
With a unanimous vote last week, House members declared 2012 the “Year of the Bible.”
The resolution recognizes the book that has shaped the Commonwealth and the “national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.”
The article gratuitously adds a little of the “Christian martyr complex”:
Sponsoring Republican Rep. Rick Saccone of Allegheny County said he’s been getting a bit of critical feedback on the measure.
Oh, the poor thing! How utterly horrible to be criticized for this! Why, it’s intolerable!
Ironically, while he’s defending the importance of the Commonwealth “recognizing” the Bible’s importance, Saccone dismisses his own measure as meaningless:
Saccone said it’s like many other largely symbolic pieces of legislation recognizing Girl Scout Week, honoring Jewish chaplains, or paying tribute to military veterans.
Believe me, the Religious Right will not view this declaration as “merely symbolic.” They will, instead, fallaciously use it as “evidence” of their “Christian nation” scenario … insisting that the entire country must revere the Bible exactly as they do, and must, by extension, be Christian just like them. Sorry to break it to them, but this is not a “Christian nation,” and little maneuvers like this one can never make it so.
As for the “national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures,” I question this in the strongest terms. The Bible contains a lot of “teachings” which no moral or ethical person should ever even contemplate doing, much less “apply” in their lives. Among them are the following:
- All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. (Gen 7:21-23)
- Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. (Ex 12:29)
- He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. (Ex 21:17)
- We utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children of every city. (Dt 3:6)
- Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Dt 19:21)
- If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. (Dt 22:23-24)
- They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. (Jo 6:21)
- Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Sm 15:2-3)
- How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock. (Ps 137:9)
- And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths. (Rev 9:17-18)
- And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Rev 20:9)
The above is but a minuscule sampling of the horrific teachings contained within the Bible; there are many more I could have picked from.
It’s true the Bible contains some good teachings, such as what one finds in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain, which includes sayings such as “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God,” “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” and “whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” But really, how many Bible-venerating Christians obey those particular teachings? None that I know of.
As it turns out, all the signatories to this declaration may well have expressly violated one of the Bible’s teachings:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 6:1)
I can’t think of any more noticeable and public a way of expressing one’s Christian faith than by voting for this measure; hence, I can’t see how this couldn’t possibly be disobeying Jesus himself!
Photo credit: Ian Britton, via FreeFoto.
Tags: 1 Samuel 15:2-3
, christian bible
, christian right
, Deuteronomy 19:21
, Deuteronomy 22:23-24
, Deuteronomy 3:6
, Exodus 12:29
, Exodus 21:17
, Genesis 7:21-23
, pennsylvania general assembly
, pennsylvania house
, pennsylvania house of representatives
, pennsylvania legislature
, Psalms 137:9
, religious right
, Revelation 20:9
, Revelation 9:17-18
, year of the bible
I guess I can add Indiana to the list of states that are falling under the sway of Christofascism. The AP reports via the Ball State Daily News that Indiana’s senate is set to take up a bill permitting Creationism to be taught in that state’s public schools (WebCite cached article):
Indiana’s public schools would be allowed to teach creationism in science classes under a bill endorsed Wednesday by a state Senate committee.
The Senate Education Committee voted 8-2 in favor of the bill despite experts and some senators saying teaching creationism likely would be ruled unconstitutional if challenged in court.
Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said he sponsored the bill because he believes creationism should be taught among the theories on the development of life and that the proposal wouldn’t force any changes in schools teaching evolution.
Sen. Kruse claims there is more than one “theory on the development of life.” What he does not understand — or perhaps he does, and is simply lying — is that science has only one such theory: Evolution. All of the other “theories” that have been posited, including Creationism, are not scientific and thus do not belong in a science classroom. Kruse is appealing to the “teach the controversy” notion, which is invalid, because in science, there is no controversy about evolution; no more of a “controversy” about it, than there is about whether the sky is blue, water is wet, or 2+2=4. To claim there is one, and then use that supposed “controversy” as an excuse to present non-scientific alternatives, is disingenuous. Really, evolution is both a theory and a fact, and it is currently the only scientific explanation for the development of life. Militant Christians like the senator may not like that, but it’s true, and no amount of stamping their feet, thumping Bibles, or screeching and wailing about the evils of “Darwinism” (whatever that is) can ever change it.
That the bill is written so it “permits” school districts to “opt in” to teaching Creationism, is already being used an evasion of responsibility by its supporters:
“This is a local option and the local school board decides,” Kruse said.
There, you see? Kruse is not, himself, explicitly “making” anyone teach Creationism. If it’s taught anywhere, it will solely be on the heads of local school boards … he’s staying out of it. I’m sure he sees this as politically convenient, but this is a transparant dodge; there will no doubt be plenty of school boards in a red state like Indiana where the local communities are Christianist enough that they’ll apply pressure to teach evolution. And Kruse is counting on that, I’m sure.
What these Christofascists don’t care about that Creationism has already been forbidden to be taught in public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court, for example in Epperson v. Arkansas (1968), among other cases. It’s possible they’re hoping to revisit one or more of these decisions and have the current religionist-majority Supreme Court overturn them, but my guess is that’s not going to happen — even if they think it will. (This is another example of the Christianists’ delusional reasoning.)
Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: auburn IN
, creationism in schools
, dennis kruse
, indianapolis IN
, public schools
Religionists love to look for easy targets to indoctrinate and/or convert. One group of people they’ve traditionally gone after, is your basic captive audience: School children. Toward that end, a bipartisan cadre of religionist lawmakers in Florida have cooked up yet another bill that — if it became law — would put prayer into public schools in Florida, and end up forcing public school kids to pray, whether or not they or their parents wish it. The Miami Herald reports on this militant Christianist effort (WebCite cached article):
A bill that would allow voluntary, student-led prayer in secondary schools sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday – but not before meeting resistance from Anti-Defamation League officials, who called the bill “unnecessary, divisive and unconstitutional.”
Said sponsor Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando: “All I’m trying to do is allow those School Boards and those students who want to partake in this type of activity [the opportunity] to do that.”
Siplin and the bill’s other sponsors have fallen for the myth that it’s currently impossible for anyone to pray in public schools. At the moment, anyone — students, faculty, employees, visitors, etc. — in any public school in the country can, in fact, pray any time s/he wants to. It is not illegal to do so, and there’s no need for any law to be passed to enable it. I expect a lot of praying goes on in schools all over the country … especially around exam time.
What’s not permitted is when school staff lead students in prayer. This was established by the US Supreme Court in a number of decisions, most especially Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington School Dist. v. Schempp (1963), among others. This means that FL Senate Bill 98 and House Bill 317 would be unconstitutional, even if they were to become law. The Herald even points this out by citing a related precedent:
Passing the legislation may not be that easy. In 2009, a federal court struck down school prayer in Santa Rosa County in northwest Florida.
The law seems to have been written with a wink and a nod in the direction of trying to skirt Constitutional limitations:
Student volunteers would have to lead the prayers or benedictions, and school personnel would not be permitted to partake.
This is transparent, however; if the principal were to stick a child in front of an assembly or a microphone, s/he would effectively be directing the prayer. Using the child as an agent would, moreover, be cowardly in the extreme.
Also, the maneuver of merely “enabling” school boards to lead students in prayer, rather than directing them to do so, is likewise transparent. If you think for a moment that a lot of Florida’s schools won’t leap at the chance to ram religion down the throats of kids, you’re sorely mistaken; I already blogged about the godly folk in Cross City FL who’ve stated they were willing to defy court orders to remove a Decalogue idol from their courthouse steps.
The article ended with this precious little tidbit:
“God bless y’all,” [Siplin] told senators after the vote. “I’m praying for you.”
I hope Siplin realizes that, in saying this, he violated Jesus’ explicit and unmistakable command never to engage in public piety (see Matthew 6:1-6 among other gospel passages). These militant Christianists really need to stop disobeying their own Jesus.
But of course, we all know damned well they won’t!
Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.
Photo credit: Austin Cline/About Atheism.
, gary siplin
, house bill 317
, orlando FL
, public piety
, public prayer
, public school
, public school prayer
, school prayer
, senate bill 98
, tallahasee FL
2 Comments »
I’ve been known to refer to Christianity facetiously as “the Religion of Love,” because while its adherents claim to be loving, peaceful and gentle, when push comes to shove — and especially where they think their God is concerned — they’re anything but loving, peaceful or gentle. Offended Christians easily forget the “love” the founder of their religion taught them and rationalize hatred, intolerance, and even violence in his name.
The latest example of this all-too-common phenomenon comes in the wake of a court decision ordering the removal of a giant prayer banner in a public high school in Rhode Island (WebCite cached article). You see, in the wake of that decision, quite a number of supposedly-loving Christians have unleashed a great deal of fury at the atheist student who brought the case, Jessica Ahlquist. A pair of bloggers has cataloged a number of Facebook and Twitter comments made by Christians, and they are … well, I’ll let you decide (cached):
It is apparent that Christians only believe in tolerance so long as their religion is allowed to violate the constitution.
Well, I’ve grown tired of just being tolerated and I will not be tolerating the stomach-churning hatred that’s continuously espoused by those doing the “tolerating.”
These are those comments… some of them anyway.. I hope you’re reading them on an empty stomach.
A small sample of the abundant Christian “love” being showered down on Ms Ahlquist appears below. Read these, and be impressed with all of that “love.”
Surely this is precisely the behavior Jesus had in mind, when he said all of the following:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. (Mt 5:38-40)
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mt 5:43-45)
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Mt 26:52)
Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. (Lk 6:29)
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Lk 6:35)
I suggest all these enraged Christians pick up their damn Bibles and read them. For the first time in their lives, if needed. Sheesh.
Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.
Photo credit (for all images in this post): JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks.
P.S. Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, has set up a scholarship “Chipin” for Jessica. If you feel like sticking it to all those furious militant Christianists, do it constructively by making a donation:
, cranston high school west
, jessica ahlquist
, prayer banner
, public school religion
, religion of love
, Separation of church and state
1 Comment »
Religious Rightists seem to lose their microscopic little minds when it comes to marriage … or more specifically, gay marriage. They hate it, and they don’t want gays to marry, but they have trouble articulating any rational reasons for their subjective distaste for it. The most recent example of their stupidity and ignorance about this subject, came when GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum — the new “darling” of the Republican primary now that he’s had a near-win in the Iowa caucuses — as reported by the Los Angeles Times tried to explain to a college audience why he thought gays should not be allowed to marry (WebCite cached article):
Santorum is an ardent, outspoken opponent of gay marriage, favoring an amendment to the Constitution that would define marriage as solely between a man and a woman. He received a rough welcome from a group of college Republicans in Concord — and it likely didn’t help matters when he compared a same-sex union to polygamy.
“Are we saying everyone should have the right to marry? So anyone can marry anyone else?” Santorum asked, according to a video by NBC News. “So anybody can marry several people?”
Video of Santorum’s idiocy can be seen courtesy of NBC News:
The logical (and legal) problem with equating gay marriage with polygamy is one I’ve pointed out before, and that is that a gay marriage is still a contract between two people (as is a current “standard” heterosexual marriage), whereas a polygamous marriage involves several people. They’re fundamentally different, with polygamous marriages being much more complicated. They are just not the same.
Although I’m pointing out that he said it, I must concede that Santorum’s “gay marriage equals polygamy” equation is not something he devised, it’s actually standard Religious Right rhetoric. However, when one couples this piece of stupidity with his claim 10 months ago that the Crusades were not Christian “aggression,” you clearly have a man who’s blithely unconcerned with facts of any kind and unburdened by rationality. On top of that, last weekend Santorum said he thought the US should be open about its covert operations in Iran (cached):
“We need to say very clearly that we will be conducting covert activity to do everything we can to stop their nuclear program.
I could be wrong, but last I knew, anything you were open and “clear” about cannot also remain “covert.” And if the infamous Stuxnet cyberattack hasn’t clued the world — and the Iranians, not to mention Mr Santorum — into the fact that the US is covertly trying to sabotage Iran’s nuclear-weapon efforts … well, then no amount of being “clear” about it is going to help.
Either Rick Santorum is one of the stupidest people on earth, or he’s acting as though he is, just to play up to Christofascist GOP primary voters; but neither of these conclusions is very comforting.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: 2012 campaign
, 2012 presidential election
, 2012 primary
, christian right
, gay marriage
, religious right
, rick santorum
1 Comment »
The 2012 GOP presidential primary proceeds relentlessly. For many months the mass media have treated us to their “horse race” coverage, telling us who’s ahead, who’s behind, who collapsed, who’s surging, etc. It’s old and tired, and about to become more intense — and therefore even older and even more tired — with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary coming up in the next 10 days.
As it turns out, one of the previous media-declared “frontrunners,” MN Rep. Michele Bachmann, now ironically enters the caucuses in her native Iowa with no discernible chance of winning (she was overtaken months ago successively by Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and lately even Rick Santorum). But the godly Mrs Bachmann hasn’t conceded defeat. Oh no! As reported in the ABC News “The Note” blog, she knows she’s going to win — because her God is going to hand her the victory (WebCite cached article):
Michele Bachmann told ABC News she expects to defy her dismal poll numbers with a “miraculous” result in the Iowa caucuses.
“We’re going to see an astounding result on Tuesday night — miraculous,” Bachmann told ABC News in an interview at her Iowa campaign headquarters surrounded by young supporters from her alma mater Oral Roberts University.
“We’re believing in a miracle because we know, I know, the one who gives miracles,” Bachmann said.
Yes, Mrs Bachmann. Of course, the Almighty has nothing better to do with his infinite power and knowledge, than magically grant electoral victories to his most devout followers! Why, we know it happens, because the Almighty did the same for Christine O’Donnell, who ran for the Senate from Delaware late last year.
Oh wait. O’Donnell lost that! Woops, never mind.
Folks, welcome to the “It’s All About ME!” world of the avowed religionist. Hyperreligious people typically think of God as being connected only to themselves and to no one else. Their God’s universe is their own personal universe. In their eyes, the Almighty does everything just for them, because they’re oh-so-extra-special in his Almighty eyes. It’s a dysfunctional, irrational, and even immature way of looking at the world — nevertheless it’s all too common, even in grown adults like Mrs Bachmann.
Update: Not only did Mrs Bachmann not get her promised “miracle,” her results in the Iowa caucuses were so bad that she was driven from the primaries (cached). Woops.
Photo credit: AP via ABC News / Evan Vucci.
Tags: 2012 campaign
, 2012 election
, gop primary
, house of representatives
, iowa caucuses
, michele bachmann
, republican primary
Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker and current GOP candidate for president, is surging in the polls. Part of the reason is that he’s been cultivating the Religious Right, which largely ignores the fact that he’s been married three times, having cheated on two of his wives, including while he was trying to get Bill Clinton run out of the White House for having had an affair.* As part of his effort to build his reputation as a dutifully and devoutly Christian Rightist, the Newtster decided to court the Christian Zionist movement. Unfortunately, the way in which he chose to go about it, demonstrates conclusively that he’s a brazen ignoramus. CBS News reports on his idiotic spew (WebCite cached article):
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said this week that Palestinians are an “invented” people, a position that could be seen as putting him at odds with the U.S. push for a two-state solution in the Middle East.
“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire,” Gingrich told the Jewish Channel, which posted portions of the interview online on Friday [cached]. “And I think that we’ve have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab community, and they had the chance to go many places.”
Here’s video of this part of the interview, courtesy of the Jewish Channel and Youtube:
His criterion for what makes the Palestinian people “invented” and therefore ineligible to have their own state — i.e. that their land once had been part of the Ottoman Empire — is more than a bit strange. After all, many countries that exist now, and have existed for a very long time, were also once part of the Ottoman Empire. Most of the Balkan states, for example, had once been under the Ottoman regime. The same goes for countries like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Armenia and even Hungary … just to name a few. By the standards the Newtster has laid down, these nations are all “invented peoples,” and none are entitled to statehood.
In spite of his error, Gingrich is far too ideologically-driven (and too desperate to hold onto Christian Zionist primary voters) to admit his error. He maintains he’s factually correct, even though quite obviously he’s not (cached).
Yes folks, even though he’s a history professor, Newt Gingrich doesn’t actually know anything about history. I only have a B.A. in the field, yet I know how catastrophically wrong the man is. His lie about the Palestinian situation places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.
One last thing: During the interview, Newt says:
And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel since the 1940s.
I have no idea who this “we” is that the Newtster claims has been waging a “war against Israel” all that time. Is he referring to the US? Somehow I doubt it, but I can’t imagine who else that “we” could possibly be.
Photo credit: Eliel.
* The R.R.’s fondness for hypocrisy is well-known, but is strange, considering the founder of their own religion clearly, explicitly, plainly and specifically forbid his followers to be hypocritical, ever.
Tags: 2012 campaign
, 2012 election
, christian right
, christian zionism
, christian zionist
, christian zionists
, liar for jesus
, liars for jesus
, lying liar for jesus
, lying liars for jesus
, middle east
, newt gingrich
, ottoman empire
, palestinian arab
, palestinian arabs
, palestinian people
, religious right
, republican primary